BRINGS REPTILE QUESTIONS
questions I get about reptiles are in the warmer months. But a few come
in winter, including these received last month.
I am a real estate agent who has a client concerned about a property
in Naples, Florida. It has a retaining wall on the bayside that rises
about 6 to 8 feet above the water level. Could an alligator jump up
onto the wall and then go after a dog?
Alligators cannot jump over high fences, but I have seen alligators
up to 6 feet long climb over both chicken wire and chain-link fences
by using their toes to grasp the mesh. I'm not sure how high they could
climb to get over a fence in that manner but certainly several feet.
But for one to actually jump over a solid wall would be unlikely behavior.
If the wall had footholds of some sort, an alligator might give it a
try if a dog were on the other side. They will go after a dog when given
an opportunity, but I have never heard of one jumping over a high wall.
Could I possibly have seen some kind of gecko in downtown Charleston
on a warm evening this winter? It was on a wall near a porch light.
Yes, geckos are lizards now found commonly in Charleston and many urban
areas in all coastal states from Virginia to Texas. The most likely
kind is the non-native Mediterranean gecko. The species was introduced
into Florida in 1910 and has now spread, through human transport, to
many regions of the country. The only native species of gecko in the
eastern United States is the Florida reef gecko, which is restricted
to the Florida Keys.
geckos are inoffensive little creatures that are completely harmless
to humans. Although their native range is from southern Europe to India,
they are not known to cause problems to our environment or for any native
lizard or other animal. They thrive mostly around houses, warehouses
and other buildings where they can go inside to stay warm and where
most native wildlife has already been eliminated. They typically come
out at night when it is not cold. My prediction is that small colonies
of Mediterranean geckos will eventually turn up and persist in most
if not all southern cities.
We live in Dallas/Fort Worth and found a green anole in the freezing
cold and ice yesterday lying on a stepping stone. I thought it was dead,
but when I walked over to it again later that day, I saw its mouth slowly
open. It was very weak. I took it home, and we made a little habitat
for it in a container with leaves and a tray of water. It's now green
again and seems to be improving, but it has not tried to move much.
How can we tell if it's OK? While it's at home, we have it under a kitchen
light to warm it up. Where should we release it? Should we wait until
it warms up and guide it to some leaves to hibernate?
It sounds like you have done as much as possible for this particular
anole. Probably the best thing to do now is to take it outside during
the warmest part of the day and put it under leaves or vegetation in
an area that will get sun. Putting it close to the house on the south
side might be a good idea as it will be a few degrees warmer. However,
green anoles do make it through the winter by staying under leaves,
bark or other natural cover.
A fun exercise
is to use a colored felt-tip marking pen to put a small mark on its
body that will last for several days or weeks. That way, should it turn
up again, you will recognize it as the same one. Good luck, and I hope
you see him in the spring.
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